We’ve all heard the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
When it comes to planning and launching a successful small business, this single cliché can actually help you build a profitable business more quickly.
The key to profitability is in the planning, record keeping, customer and competition analysis and so much more.
It all takes time to implement and perfect…
Here are my 8 great tips to set you firmly on the road to financial success with your small business.
1. Plan and organize to succeed
“It’s all in the list” is a saying that’s often used to describe the number of potential customers on a company’s mailing lists. But long before the list of hungry customers MUST come a daily “to-do” list. Read up on a successful business person you look up to and you’ll likely find they’re a persistent list-maker. Making a list and being accountable to it ensures you contact suppliers, customers, debtors, etc., on time and that you never forget to do things that are essential to your business’s success.
2. Haunt your competition
All successful business owners learn to balance innovation with good ol’ fashioned copycatting. Pour over your competition’s every move in the marketplace, including all the marketing they use. See how they get customers coming in the doors – i.e., radio, word of mouth, mailers, coupons, offline and online publications and advertising – then use that knowledge to usurp them. Also, learn about the suppliers and outsourcers they use and compare those services with those you use. You may find a more affordable, higher quality resource to help boost your profits even higher!
3. Be a persistent financial record-keeper
Yet another trait that all successful entrepreneurs share. Most failed businesses on the other hand, share the “whatever may come” mentality of flying by the seat of their pants, with no clue how much money’s coming in or going out. Worse, if you don’t keep records and your business does fail, it’s going to be much harder to assess where you went wrong and regroup for your next venture.
4. Take calculated risks
Mark Zuckerberg has famously said more than once: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
When it comes to taking chances, always answer the question: “What’s the worst that can happen?” This will often require asking others, such as a mentor with experience in your industry, what they think. Once you know the downside, you can appropriately decide whether the risk is worth the reward.
5. Innovate, innovate, innovate!
Innovate using your own ideas, your employees ideas, your spouse – even your kid’s ideas to make your business better! (look at Abbey Fleck, the then 8-year old creator of “Makin Bacon.”) Always look to improve your processes, marketing, customer service, and other areas of your business. A stagnant business = poor growth and eventual failure.
6. Keep your eyes on the prize
Understand that in most businesses, the money isn’t going to start rolling in like gang-busters the first day you open your doors. This isn’t true of all businesses, particularly if you’re an authority in your niche and have dozens of clients lined up before the business plan is even done. However, in most cases it can take a year, perhaps longer to get profits into the far side of the black.
7. Don’t be a Scrooge with your time
In this case, I’m talking about Scrooging out on your business to spend time with friends, family, yourself… All the lead up to opening your SMB is like pouring the foundation to your new home; after, you still have to build the walls, put on the roof, install the fixtures, smooth out the rough edges. Prepare to work really hard for at least two years before scheduling any week-long vacations away from your business.
8. Be “spectacular” not “ass-tacular”
This is simple to do, but only if you and/or your staff are true customer service professionals. The customer always has to come first, no matter how much of an inconvenience it can be to have them interrupt a busy project with demands, or take up tons of your valuable time asking questions. The most demanding will often be your most loyal. Not to mention that those who are easy to please will always give preference to businesses who go above and beyond for them, while keeping the atmosphere filled with the utmost positivity.
Word to the Wise
There are likely several other sage and noteworthy tips that could be added to this list. Regardless, combining the advice above with a great idea will almost always guarantee you a long-term business that’s profitable and over time; self-sustaining.
Your next step: Let’s put those tips into practice, and please share with us how it goes!